10 Tips to help your athlete shine in sports tryouts

sportstryoutsBy Betsy Stein

August is the season for sports team tryouts. Whether your athlete is trying out for a high school sports team, a club team or a recreation travel team, it is important to be ready for the rigors of the tryout.

"To stay safe for a sports tryout, the biggest things to remember are to complete a proper warm-up and stretching routine, stay aware of the temperature and air quality, and be sure to have proper nutrition and hydration," says Abby Swope a physical therapist and clinical director from Cypress Creek Therapy in Annapolis and Severna Park.

Here are some tips to prepare for a sports team tryout from TJ Morgan, head athletic trainer at Archbishop Spaulding High School in Severn and past president of the Maryland Athletic Trainer's Association, and Ann Wallop, pediatric physical therapist and owner of Annapolis Family Physical Therapy:

Tips for sports team tryouts

  1. 1Get a physical. Make sure the athlete has had a general medical exam and an orthopedic screening prior to the tryout.
  2. Know what's expected. Get a tryout-grading sheet from the coach prior to tryouts. If it is not provided, ask for one. It will help the athlete prepare, Morgan says.
  3. Get in sport-specific shape. Conditioning runs of 30-40 minutes are important, but so is sport-specific training. Identify the demands of the sport and prepare by mimicking those demands in training, Morgan says.
  4. Avoid overtraining and incorporate cross training to help prevent injuries. Combine running, biking and swimming along with other means to train. Conditioning should include several phases: building up, increasing intensity and then maintaining.
  5. Eat a balanced diet. "Eat poor, play poor... . Balanced nutrition fuels the furnace," Morgan says. Match the energy demand with the appropriate caloric consumption. A supplement-free, balanced diet is more than adequate for the tween or teen athlete, he says.
  6. Stay hydrated. Water is and always will be best for hydrating a body that is 90 percent water, Morgan says. Sports drinks are only necessary when play or practice exceeds 2.5 hours.
  7. Get enough sleep. Young athletes need 8 to 10 hours of good sleep a night so the body can repair itself. Any less and performance will begin to suffer. "Maintaining a good sleep schedule is going to be easier if it is not altered too much during summer months," Morgan advises.
  8. Be coachable. It's important for athletes to take instruction well.
  9. Know what to avoid. Don't spend too much time in the sun or hot tub before tryouts. Don't eat too little or too much before the tryout, and avoid high levels of caffeine.
  10. Be aware of potential health risks. Know the signs of heat-related illnesses, sudden cardiac arrest and concussion. Information on all can be found at nata.org.

Finally, a tip just for parents: Be supportive. Remember to stress the fun and joy of the sport, not the performance. Avoid being another coach, Morgan advises.

Check out our story onConcussion common sense for kids in sports